The deal over Gaza in Cairo between Hamas and Fatah is apparently being interpreted as a victory for Egypt and a retreat for Iran in Middle East politics. But the overall picture suggests something different.
Hamas, considered as a terrorist organization by Israel and many Western countries, came to power in Gaza after 2006 elections. In contrast, Fatah was considered as a secular organization and is led by President Mahmoud Abbas. Its name is associated with Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO). Hamas had a very close link with Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt and Islamic Republic of Iran, whose other two allies are the Syrian regime and Hezbollah, a Shia militia of Lebanon.
Turkey, which has a history of good relationship with Israel, also used to back Hamas all these years. When President Morsi (2012-13) of Muslim Brotherhood got elected in Egypt it emboldened Hamas. Israel on the other hand used to repeatedly bombard Gaza and impose economic blockade on it as Hamas used to have very strong anti-Israeli stand. To defend itself, Hamas has no other weapon except self-made rockets—whose technology was provided by Iran.
However, the Arab Spring was followed by civil war in Syria too. The scenario became quite murky with big powers (like US and Russia) started playing their own games.
The relationship between Iran and Egypt improved considerably as long as Mr. Morsi was in power.
However, a year after being elected as the first President of his country Mr. Morsi was thrown out of office in 2013. The brutal army crackdown in Egypt had the backing of the Arab Sheikhdoms led by Saudi Arabia.
Hamas was greatly weakened by this development. While Israel continued to tighten its noose, Egypt imposed economic restrictions by closing down Rafah border crossing.
Gaza under Hamas became an open air prison surrounded by Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea. This compelled it to soften its stand towards Fatah, which is in power in the West Bank.
Besides, the truce between the two would serve the larger Palestinian cause better as it would unite the two Palestinian political entities.
Though some global security experts feel that Egyptian influence has increased many others dispute this view. They are of the opinion that the American influence in the region is receding fast, forcing King Salman of Saudi Arabia to visit Russia. Even Mr. Erdogan of Turkey befriended Russia. In such a situation Abdel Fattah al-Sisi appears to be on a weak wicket.
The present retreat of Hamas may be tactical. Unlike Hamas leadership which consists of Ismail Haniyeh and Khaled Mashal, President Mahmoud Abbas is old.
Thus the situation in the Middle East is too fluid to be expressed in certain terms.
Sarim Ahmed is a trainee journalist associated with ‘The Morning Chronicle’. International affairs is his one of the favourite subjects. If you like this piece, do not hesitate to appreciate Sarim at email@example.com.